Feb. 22, 2012
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
Marcellus Shale creates diverse jobs
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Anyone employed in the western Pennsylvania/eastern Ohio region in the coming decades may have the Marcellus Shale to thank for part of their income, according to Joy Ruff, economic development community outreach manger for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, who spoke Tuesday as part of Slippery Rock University’s “Success Starts Here” series.
Ruff, a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, has extensive experience in governmental affairs and land-use planning with a focus on community development and public outreach. She offered a comprehensive overview of gas and oil exploration related to Marcellus Shale in her address that drew some 300 participants.
She pointing out the largest identified natural gas/shale drilling region in the U.S. covers a major portion of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio.
She covered the 2008 founding of the coalition, its current 280-member roster and its stated goals of responsible shale gas development.
“Part of our mission is to help ensure energy security for the nation,” Rupp said.
Her talk included details about “wet gas” and “dry gas.” She said “wet gas” includes ancillary chemicals used in polymers, paints, plastics and fertilizers – and is in higher demand than “dry gas.”
“And, the region that includes Butler, Allegheny Washington and Green counties in Pennsylvania offer the so-called ‘wet gas’ form, which is even more preferred by those in the industry,” she said.
In addition to jobs directly related to the Marcellus Shale, Ruff said such “temporary jobs” (estimated at 10-70 years) related to pre-drilling and drilling, include geologic studies, mapping, legal staff, environmental and permitting positions. Those involved in the production phase of drilling will need nearly 229,000 employees in Marcellus and related industries, according to a January report from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, she said.
The department report also listed the average core industry wage at $76,036, or more than $30,000 higher than the average wage in Pennsylvania. The average ancillary industry wage is marked at $63,155, higher than the $17,000 average for Pennsylvania wage earners.
“Seven out of 10 hires in Pennsylvania are from Pennsylvania according to a survey of Marcellus Shale Coalition members,” Ruff said as a way of combating what she called rumors of outsiders getting the Marcellus Shale jobs.
Rupp said, “The industry brings with it diverse job opportunities.”
She pointed to jobs directly related to drilling for oil and gas, including exploration, drilling, production, pipeline and construction work. She said the industry also requires equipment operators, engineers, operations and maintenance staff, administrative personnel, land management workers, water management staff, environmental health and safety workers, geologists, purchasing staff, well services staff and others.
She said the job openings primarily attract men, but said the openings are available to women interested in the industry.
Rupp said jobs in heavy equipment and trucking, surveyors, utilities, real estate, commodity traders, gas processors, safety equipment suppliers, cement workers, rig parts purchases, the iron and steel industry, legal services and those who operate and work at quarries and in aggregate supply are part of the equation.
Outside the industry, Russ said jobs in food and drink, housing, utilities, health care, entertainment, schools and lodging also come into play, especially if new businesses are necessary as part of the overall drilling process.
She said the new steel pipe mill in nearby Youngstown, Ohio, which has created hundreds of manufacturing jobs, was brought about in large measure because of demand in the Marcellus Shale drilling expansion. Pipe made at the mill may also be shipped to other drilling sites across the U.S. There are also shale gas drilling areas in Texas, North and South Dakota, Colorado and Kentucky, among others.
Rupp said site construction and preparation can run to $5 million to bring each well into production.
“Overall, that means a $12.5 billion investment in well site operations, assuming 2,500 new wells are brought online annually,” she said.
“It takes 400-plus individuals within nearly 150 different occupations to complete and produce from a Marcellus Shale well,” she said. On average, 5,000 tons of aggregate and 125 tons of locally produced cement must be trucked in at each well site. Each well also requires about 17,000 feet of pipe.
Rupp said rail, barge and trucking companies, asphalt producers, road grading and paving contractors, sand and water suppliers play a part in drilling operations. “On average, 180 rail cars of sand are used for an eight-well pad site. Three hundred truck loads of recycled water are needed for each new well,” she said.
The industry’s July 2010 to Oct. 2012 Pennsylvania county-by-country drilling report listed 3,396 wells in production and 4,535 permits issued.
Butler County has 80 wells in production and 176 permits. Armstrong County has 60 in production and 88 permits; Washington County, 403 wells and permits for 312, but Allegheny County showed only four wells in production with two permits pending.
She said during drilling the largest numbers of jobs are created inside and outside the industry, but once the well is completed, drillers and production staff move on, thus some job attrition can be expected if another site is not close by.
Those involved in the Marcellus Shale Coalition are committed to environmental safety as a part of their membership, Rupp said. She cited the planting of 14,000 pine and oak tress along 6.23 miles of edging in a state forest in Clinton and Lycoming counties as part of a well-site maintenance commitment.
She said members are committed to safety, including federal, state and company mandatory health and safety training programs for workers.
Rupp said most wells are completed within one year.
“Times is money, and companies need a return on their investment. So drilling becomes a 24/7 operation. Workers work non-tradition hours, are exposed to all types of weather and have to travel, at least to the various well sites.”
Rupp said the gas extracted from such wells is most often used for heating homes and by industry. For the “dry gas” form, little must be done to make it usable in homes. It is simply piped via underground lines to the end users. The “wet gas” variety is sent to processors where the specialized chemicals are removed for distribution to appropriate industrial customers as the gas is converted to the “dry gas” used in standard heating.
In the industry, she said, there are typically three phases related to gas production.
“Upstream” refers to actually bringing the gas to the surface, or the drilling phase; “Midstream,” is where gas is stored or transported through natural gas pipeline systems to gas suppliers; and the “Downstream” phase actually handles selling and distribution of natural gas to homes and businesses.
Ruff earned her bachelor of arts in political science at the University of Pittsburgh and her master of arts in communication studies from California University.
As a community outreach manager, she works with individuals and communities to represent the coalition and help inform key small business, economic development and local government constituencies of the issues and opportunities around the safe development of natural gas.
Her responsibilities include supporting the business community through education, identifying workforce development needs and addressing shortfalls and weaknesses in the continuity of the supply chain.
The MSC is a nonprofit, membership-driven organization comprised of more than 250 members that account for almost 100 percent of the operators in the Marcellus Shale region. It also includes a vibrant supply chain supporting energy producers and midstream companies.
Anthony Cialella, a 1992 SRU finance and economics graduate from New Castle and a member of the School of Business Advisory Council, introduced Rupp.
Cialella, who was a non-traditional student at SRU when he enrolled at age 33, launched his career in banking and in 2002 bought Castle Environmental. He recently sold the waste service company to Advanced Waste Services of Pennsylvania.
SRU’s free, ongoing series focuses on successful regional businesses as a way of encouraging students and others to consider starting businesses or pursing careers in western Pennsylvania.
“This year, we are focusing our lecture efforts on the opportunities of Marcellus Shale and related operations that are becoming a success throughout Pennsylvania and surrounding states,” said John Buttermore, assistant professor in the School of Business and the program’s coordinator. “We think our graduates may find meaningful careers in the Marcellus Shale industry in the foreseeable future.”
John Applegath, senior vice president of Range Resources, will be the next speaker. His presentation will be at 12:30 p.m., March 27 in the Advanced Technology and Science Hall Auditorium. Applegath, who has been in the oil and gas industry since 1971, handles the southern Marcellus Shale division for the company.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.